“Controlled Unclassified Info” Policy Is On the Way

05.13.09 | 2 min read | Text by Steven Aftergood

A new government-wide policy on “controlled unclassified information” (CUI) is still more than a year away from implementation, but not because of any lack of attention or interest.  To the contrary, it is the subject of rather intensive policy deliberation, officials say, and is not “languishing” as Secrecy News stated on May 11.

CUI refers generally to information that is restricted in some way other than by national security classification.  Because such restrictions have taken many different forms and names — such as sensitive but unclassified, official use only, limited official use, and more than a hundred others — they have also become a disruptive barrier to communication and a source of confusion inside and outside of government.

While the nature of the problem is clear enough (i.e. a reckless proliferation of often arbitrary non-disclosure policies), and the solution is also straightforward in principle (i.e. increased restraint, uniformity and consistency), getting from here to there turns out to be an exceptionally complicated policy problem.  It involves the activities of dozens of federal agencies, as well as state, local, and tribal entities, industry and others.  It encompasses statutory and non-statutory control regimes.  A consensus policy must first be achieved, then translated into implementing regulations, and inculcated through training and education programs.

To gain traction on the problem, officials have broken it down into several sub-categories, including safeguarding policy, document designation, dissemination, and lifecycle (or “decontrol” of the information). Significant headway has been made in several of these areas, one official said.

The Obama Administration is expected to weigh in on the topic in the near future, adding new direction and impetus to the process.  But in any case, a new CUI policy is not expected to be in place before some time in Fiscal Year 2011.

“To undo decades of bad practices is going to take a while,” said William J. Bosanko, the director of the Information Security Oversight Office who is also leading the interagency CUI reform effort.

See all publications
Nuclear Weapons
New Voices on Nuclear Weapons Fellowship: Creative Perspectives on Rethinking Nuclear Deterrence 

To empower new voices to start their career in nuclear weapons studies, the Federation of American Scientists launched the New Voices on Nuclear Weapons Fellowship. Here’s what our inaugural cohort accomplished.

11.28.23 | 3 min read
read more
Science Policy
Expected Utility Forecasting for Science Funding

Common frameworks for evaluating proposals leave this utility function implicit, often evaluating aspects of risk, uncertainty, and potential value independently and qualitatively.

11.20.23 | 11 min read
read more
Nuclear Weapons
Nuclear Notebook: Nuclear Weapons Sharing, 2023

The FAS Nuclear Notebook is one of the most widely sourced reference materials worldwide for reliable information about the status of nuclear weapons and has been published in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists since 1987. The Nuclear Notebook is researched and written by the staff of the Federation of American Scientists’ Nuclear Information Project: Director Hans […]

11.17.23 | 1 min read
read more
Social Innovation
Community School Approach Reaches High of 60%, Reports Latest Pulse Panel

According to the National Center for Education Statistics’ August 2023 pulse panel, 60% of public schools were utilizing a “community school” or “wraparound services model” at the start of this school year—up from 45% last year.

11.17.23 | 4 min read
read more